Sports

Contest Tries to Boost Athletics’ Attendance and Competition

Loyola AthleticsThe Loyola women's soccer team watching a men's soccer game to get points for the Rambler Cup

Loyola athletics has been working to increase attendance at home games in recent years. Men’s basketball head coach Porter Moser has gone so far as to write an opinion piece for The Phoenix to get students to come watch his team play.

Now, senior women’s soccer player Emily Lange is spearheading a competition that aims to increase attendance, and has already created a new competitive atmosphere within Loyola athletics. This year, all 13 teams are competing in the first annual Rambler Cup.

The Rambler Cup is based on three categories: attendance at games, community service and GPA. Since the competition began just over a month ago, attendance is the only factor currently in consideration; it’s scored based on the percentage of a team’s roster at a designated game for each sport. For example, if nine of the 18 men’s volleyball players are present at a women’s soccer game, the team gets 50 points for 50 percent attendance. At the end of the year, all of the athletic programs will gather for a banquet and the winning team will receive a trophy — which will be passed around every year.

Lange said the competition is similar to one she was involved with while playing soccer at the University of Cincinnati before transferring to Loyola last year. She said she feels it gives more incentive for athletes to attend games.

“At Cincinnati … we took it pretty seriously. It’s a bunch of Division I athletes trying to compete,” Lange said. “It just brought a lot of team camaraderie and everyone was super into it, so that made it more fun when people bought into it.”

At the direction of women’s soccer head coach Barry Bimbi, Lange took her idea to Director of Marketing Marcus Mercer. Mercer said the athletics department was already talking about something similar when Lange brought up her idea.

“It had been something we were kind of talking about towards the end of last year … [and Emily] said they did something similar at Cincinnati,” Mercer said. “She talked about the way they did it, but the concept is something we’ve talked about … and it kind of came together late last year.”

Senior men’s volleyball player Jake Selsky has been another key figure in the growth of the Rambler Cup. He said Lange brought him aboard during a class they had together. They both noticed that other schools were having end-of-the-year banquets, and Lange brought up the competition Cincinnati had when she was there. Selsky said he offered to help any way he could, and he has been instrumental in spreading the word to other athletes.

“She …  said [Cincinnati] had a big banquet at the end of the year to kind of commemorate the year and there was a trophy that would be passed around,” Selsky said. “You would win it by getting points in attendance, community service and GPA, and we just thought that would really work well here because we’re really trying to improve attendance at our games. So that’s how I got dragged into it.”

Mercer said he and other members of the department look at the schedules for certain sports, once they become available, to find a game that doesn’t have any conflicts with other sports. This gives each team an equal chance to have everyone show up to a game and earn points.

As of Oct. 17, the softball team leads with 300 points, followed by women’s soccer with 170 points and men’s volleyball with 160 points. The updated scores get posted on a video board in Norville athletic center.

Softball head coach Jeff Tylka said his team was competitive from the minute they heard the date of the first game.

“Our first team meeting was maybe two days after they had told us [coaches] about the Rambler Cup and they gave us the first couple dates they were going to use and we just sent them to our kids,” Tylka said. “We just gave them the sheet and they posted it in the locker room and … they were fired up about it and they wanted to make sure they did everything they could to get everybody there.”

While all of the designated fall sport games have passed, Mercer said the athletics staff will work to find competition dates for men’s basketball, women’s basketball and men’s volleyball seasons, now that the schedules are out.

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